So you want the truth?

Well this pdf pretends to give you the truth about smoking. It's not your typical anti tobacco propaganda, it's designed for people who want to quit, people who have already made he decision to give up. So why lie? Do these organisations all just believe the party line now?

Let's have a look at some quotes:

MYTH –  Smoking relieves stress and helps me feel calm and relaxed.
FACT –  Once you have stopped smoking, evidence clearly shows you will be calmer and happier. Ex-smokers and non-smokers feel less anxious, less depressed and less
stressed than smokers.(1) In the long term, nicotine depresses the ability of the brain to experience pleasure

I have known a few people who have quit smoking, one currently who quit almost a year ago. I know none of them felt 'less stressed' because of it it.
I have been smoking a long time and my brain has no problems 'experiencing pleasure'. A good smoke with a brew or a beer even enhances pleasure.

The evidence that 'clearly shows' this is cited in the pdf: 1  West R. Defining and assessing nicotine dependence in humans. In: Corrigall WA, ed. Understanding nicotine and tobacco
addiction. London: Wiley, 2006:36-63.

Understanding Nicotine and Tobacco addiction is a book, and Understanding Nicotine dependence in humans is a chapter therein. This chapter is quoted as evidence in many online articles but the text is only available if you buy the book. I might try to find a copy and see what it really says because this is a small summary I found online:

‘Addiction’ and ‘dependence’ are used synonymously by most researchers and defined as a reward-seeking (usually drug taking) behaviour that has become out of control. The diagnosis has been based on the alcohol dependence syndrome identified 30 years ago by Edwards and Gross and includes tolerance, craving, withdrawal symptoms, difficulty controlling use, important activities given up, and continuation despite harmful consequences. A substantial proportion of smokers are addicted by reference to these criteria. However, it is possible to improve on both the definition and its assessment. This paper proposes that addiction is more usefully regarded as a symptom of potentially a range of underlying pathologies involving the ‘motivational system’. Even among smokers there is heterogeneity in the pathology that makes it difficult for them to abstain voluntarily and this has important implications for treatment. For example, there will be smokers for whom the pathology involves a largely reversible effect of nicotine in creating an ‘acquired drive’, others for whom nicotine has induced long-term changes that make life less comfortable in its absence, and others whose smoking is more situationally driven. Assessment of addiction should first quantify the degree to which the behaviour dominates the individual's repertoire and then assess the underlying pathology in the motivational system. A framework for doing this is discussed.

To me that seems to play down tobacco as a traditional addiction and put it more in the field of a habit.

Let's look at the next one:

MYTH –  I am unlikely to get a smoking  related disease.
FACT –  About half of regular smokers will eventually be killed by their addiction

I doubt many smokers believe they will not get a smoking related illness. Smoking supposedly causes everything these days and most smokers believe it.

As to the fact, evidence for this is also provided: 3  Action on Smoking and Health Smoking Statistics February 2009

I couldn't find a reference to this one online, but I don't know why I bothered looking. Most things that come out of the mouths of ASH these days are demonstrable bollocks. Check out this pdf on smoke drift in apartment buildings and how to avoid third hand smoke getting into your property.

I just lied. I found the statistics paper while looking for the third hand smoke brief. It's here and it does not provide evidence that half of smokers die from smoking, it just states it as a fact.

Deaths from smoking 
About half of all regular cigarette smokers will eventually be killed by their addiction.

Stating something as a fact does not make it so. Actually the document itself provides enough information to expose the lie.

There are about 10 million adults who smoke cigarettes in Great Britain:
In England around 150,000 children aged 11- 15 are regular smokers. 
Every year, over 100,000 smokers in the UK die from smoking related causes.

Add these three statements together and you get a smoking related death rate of roughly 20 percent and that's assuming you are willing to believe figures quoted by ASH. The real figure could be even lower.

I once talked to a heart surgeon who explained that doctors did not know why only fifteen percent of smokers develop lung diseases. I would rather believe a doctor than some public health stooge from ASH.

MYTH –  My smoking doesn’t harm anyone else, passive smoking is not a problem.
FACT –  Second hand smoke is a very real danger. Since summer 2007 smoking has been banned in all enclosed public places across the UK.
Non-smokers have between a 20% and 30% risk of contracting lung cancer from exposure to other people’s smoke. It is also a cause of respiratory disease, cot death, middle ear infections and asthma attacks in children.(4)
Non-smokers who are exposed to passive smoking in the home have a 25% increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer.

Do I really need to debunk the passive smoking myth here?
If a smoker only has a fifteen percent probability of developing any lung disease, as stated above, how can passive smoking cause a 20-30 percent chance of lung cancer alone in non-smokers?
Cot death is unexplained and there is no evidence to suggest smoking bears any relation to it.
Leg-Iron will tell you that cigarette smoke carries no bacteria that can cause ear infections, and as smoking rates decline, asthma rates increase. Go figure.

One more for now.

MYTH –  I only smoke cigars, not cigarettes so  I am not at any health risk.
FACT –  Cigars and pipes are just as dangerous  a form of smoking as cigarettes if the smoker inhales.

I picked this one for myself as I smoke cigars and I do not inhale. Many people ask me if I inhale them, so not doing so is the norm as I understand it.

Does that mean that I am quite safe? Who knows. If only we had some real science to go on.

More at a later date.


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